Everyone takes notice of our sleek 250 SLX as we pull into the marina parking lot at Lake Silverwood, a high-desert reservoir tucked in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. Even the park ranger makes a comment about the boat’s styling … just before he cautions us to “have fun, but not too much fun!”
I’m not sure you can be in your 20s and out for a day of water play with five friends and not have too much fun, but at least the boat itself won’t be adding to any raucousness. The new 250 SLX features Quiet Ride, Sea Ray’s advanced system of dampening and attenuation technologies that reduce the vessel’s noise and vibration levels by up to 50 percent. This not only makes the ride smoother, but it also creates a much quieter deck space, so you can more easily hear your friends talking or listen to what’s playing on the stereo, even as you’re blasting across the water with fully cranked, college-age aplomb.
Our 22-year-old captain, Jourdan Basso, has plenty of basis for comparing the latest 250 SLX to other sport boat models. Her family owns Sun Country Marine, with dealerships in Ontario and Dana Point, California, as well as in Lake Havasu, Arizona. This is a girl who really did grow up on the water.
“I was born into it,” she laughs, “My first word was ‘boat!’ Really, it was! We opened the first store the year I was born, so everything I remember has to do with boating. I was always in the shop, or on the water, riding on my dad’s lap, trying to drive.
“It was great for family time,” she adds, “but now that I’m older and can take my friends out on the water, it’s even more fun.” Joining Jourdan on the 250 SLX today is her boyfriend, Taylor Vrieta, a service tech at Sun Country’s Lake Havasu location, and their friends, Kym Abayan, Jessica Thomas, and Ari and Loren Henning, recently married. It’s cold and windy for Southern California, but that doesn’t stop this crew from testing out HO Sports’ new portable, inflatable paddleboard, or taking their new tube for a spin.
Ari, the athlete among us, masters the paddleboard straight away. “How awesome to have an 11-foot stand-up paddleboard that you can deflate, roll up and carry in a backpack,” he says. “You can take it anywhere, even if you’re traveling around in a small car.” HO Sports’ Inflatable Explorer Paddleboard and included two-piece paddle, air pump and backpack, does stow nicely, even in the 250 SLX, which is also hauling a huge tube and six excited passengers. “We never get enough of water sports,” Jourdan says. “All summer long we wakeboard, tube, air chair, kneeboard, you name it.”
Those long summer days on the water can be tiring, and not only because of all the fun in the sun. “I don’t understand the noise thing,” Jourdan says. “Some people like their boats loud, like it makes them cooler somehow. But when you’re going out to have fun with a bunch of friends, it’s super nice to have a quiet boat instead of one where you can’t even have a conversation with the person sitting next to you.”
“It’s the same in the motorcycle world,” adds Ari, who tests out bikes for Motorcyclist magazine. “People get it wrong when they think a loud bike is better, or faster. All a loud motorcycle really does is wear you and your riding buddies out sooner. It’s a scientific fact that noise is physically draining.”
Jourdan, who’s spent countless hours on boats made by several other manufacturers, says Sea Ray is by far her favorite brand, and the 250 SLX her favorite model. “Sea Rays are so much nicer than other boats I’ve been around because of the quality and features. I enjoy driving them more and I feel safer on the water. They’re just a better boat.” She says her favorite features on the SLX—especially this particular model, which is equipped with the optional, 380-hp MerCruiser 8.2 MAG ECT Bravo III DTS sterndrive—are its smooth power and quick maneuverability. “I also think the swim step is very convenient,” she adds, “and my friends love lounging around in the bow seats.”
The sun is out, but it’s beyond brisk, so there’s not much lounging going on today. Between turns on the tube and paddleboard, the friends huddle together under towels and blankets, shivering, laughing, shouting…enjoying their youth to the fullest. This kind of afternoon, when there’s extra ambient noise caused by wind and chop, makes you really appreciate the hush of the Quiet Ride system. Its many advances include a polymer sheeting layered into the hull to reduce the transference of wave slap, and the patented Tuned Transom®, which works with the engine compartment’s insulation to deaden mechanical vibration, creating not only an atmosphere of quietness on deck, but also an overall feeling of quality.
Imagine a well-designed automobile. Not long ago, we expected a lot of road noise in the cockpit. Today when we drive we expect to be able to hear music as if we’re in a concert hall, and have conversations with pin-drop pauses. It’s about time the boating world raised its standards for noise management, and it’s no surprise that Sea Ray is at the forefront of this movement.
Back at the dock, the goosebump-laden girls sprint for the Sun Country truck and blast the heater while Ari and Taylor stow the toys and ready the boat for the ride home. Everyone is chilled from their early spring day of play, but no one is tired. Far from it. While the effects of the new Quiet Ride system may be subtle in the moment, the results are tangible. Whether you’re 22 or 72, you’ll come off the boat feeling more invigorated and less exhausted.
Because less noise equals more energy. And more energy means you’ll have a whole lot more fun on the water.